Content Warning : This is an alternative fanfic, so there are direct references to intimate situations between two females. Subtext is maintext, although theres nothing overly explicit. No swearing, no spoilers, no drinking, no drugs, no Joxer.
Non-ownership Disclaimer : This is a fanfic piece using characters and situations from and influenced by the TV series Xena : Warrior Princess. I dont own the series or characters in any way, shape or form - mores the pity. In addition, slogans, adlines, and sundry text cribbed from different advertisements have been perverted for my own uses. I own none of them, either. However, since this work amounts to free advertising - of a sort - I hope the owners'll be lenient and forbearing.
Xenite Disclaimer : Thanks to the wonders of pre-Alexandrian herblore - and a sparkling drop of the secret miracle Ingredient-X, Gabrielle regained her minty-fresh scent after the production of this work.
Authors Note : This story was derived from an old TV commercial - now mercifully long defunct (I hope) - and a mention on either the History Channel or the Discovery Channel - or maybe on "Connections," I forget exactly where - of the origins of the product type and the rather cold blooded marketing that surrounded its introduction. Its meant all in fun, so dont take it too seriously...enjoy it - this is just a little bit of fluff that I thought up when I should have been working at my real job.
Xena and Gabrielle sat comfortably together in a meditative silence perched atop a rock on a deserted shore, watching the wine-dark waters of the Mediterranean lap at the ivory sands of the beach. In the crystal sky overhead, birds sang and swooped through the crisp morning air, trilling cheerful cries that echoed off the cliffs. Beautiful flowers in every hue of the rainbow shone in pockets of color splashed along the verge of the beach, and a sparkling air of purity and innocence lingered over everything. It was breathtakingly Elysian, and the two women simply sat in amicable silence, enjoying the rare moment of peace as they communed with the harmony of unspoiled nature.
After absorbing the beauty and harmony for long minutes, the bard broke the tranquil silence. "Xena?" Gabrielle asked hesitantly, not looking at the warrior as she stared up into the azure vaults of the cloudless sky.
"Do you ever get that... not-so-fresh feeling?"
"What?" Xena asked incredulously, sitting up and staring at her friend.
"You know what I mean... That feeling that youre... not quite fresh?"
Xena gaped for a moment, then began to snicker. "Sure."
"You do?" Gabrielle asked in surprised delight, looking up into the pair of cheerful ice-blue eyes. Glad to be entrusted with such an intimate confession - despite her embarrassment at the topic - she eagerly awaited further explanation.
"Sure. I get showered with blood and body parts a lot. Oh, and remember that time when we relieved the siege at Ipecac, and I punched that mercenary? Or that bandit outside Diurheus? If I hadnt already disemboweled him, Id have chopped his head off for doing that on me. Do you realize how long it takes to get that out of a set of leathers? Not to mention the smell..." she shuddered.
Gabrielles sudden frown didnt pass unnoticed. "Well, I suppose you would know, at that," Xena sheepishly amended herself. "Did I ever thank you for doing that for me?" she asked hopefully, though the sinking feeling in her stomach reminded her that she hadnt.
"No - but that can wait. I meant something a little different."
Although relieved by the momentary reprieve, Xena was still confused. "So what did you mean?"
"Well, we bathe regularly and try to keep clean," Gabrielle began.
Xena interrupted her with a wry smirk. "Regularly?" she snickered. "Try obsessively. We bathe more often than any five other people I can think of - maybe twenty in the winters. If its not a hot springs, its a stream. If its not a lake, its a hot tub. And when all else fails, youve even got that little pot with the holes in it."
As though she hadnt heard Xenas commentary, Gabrielle continued, "...but sometimes its just not enough."
"You want to bathe more?" Xena questioned incredulously. "Gabrielle, not that I dont like getting naked and being in the water with you, but dont you think there can be too much of a good thing?"
"Its not that, Xena," Gabrielle explained. "Its just that sometimes I start to feel a little... off."
"Oh! Its your time of the moon," Xena realized. "Are you sure?" she asked. "I thought wed pretty much synchronized - and Ive got over a week to go yet."
"Its got nothing to do with that!" Gabrielle denied. "Well, not much anyway. No... Sometimes I just feel... off. You know... a little... grimy. Pungent. You know, down... there." She blushed prettily and pretended to be enraptured by the lovely spectacle of the saffron butterflies cavorting around them in the warm shafts of glittering sunlight.
Xenas eyes narrowed in thought as she tried to figure out what her friend meant - and then it struck her. "Oh!" she exclaimed in realization. "Is that all?" she laughed in relief.
"All?" It was Gabrielles turn to be incredulous. "Well, let me tell you, Miss Warrior Princess, theres been some times when youve not been quite so fresh yourself - and Im not talking about that incident with the sheep poo, either!"
Shrugging, Xena acknowledged the possibility. "Well, I am a warrior. These leathers can be hot, and I can really work up a sweat when Im decimating warlords armies and saving villages."
"Dont forget Argo," Gabrielle added with a grimace.
"What?" Xena asked in confusion. "Shes a horse. She smells like one. She doesnt have much choice in the matter."
"Thats not what I meant!" Gabrielle protested. "I meant that after a day in the saddle, you smell like Argo!"
A distant whinny conveyed Argos feelings.
Xena smirked. "Yeah. What she said."
"Oh, never mind. I just dont like it when I feel so... strong."
"I like how strong you are, Gabrielle," Xena soothed. She ran her eyes - followed by a hand - down the lines of her muscular upper arms and across the ripples of her abdomen.
Gabrielle giggled despite her funk, but hurriedly brushed Xenas hand away. "Dont!" she protested. "Right now I dont feel so... fresh."
Xena blinked. "What do you mean?"
"Smell," Gabrielle ordered, blushing slightly as she did.
Obligingly, Xena took a deep breath, inhaling through her nose. She drank in the scent of the ocean, the sun-warmed sand, and the sweet musk of her partner.
"You smell me, dont you?" Gabrielle demanded.
"Of course I do. Youre sitting right here, and Ive got a very sensitive nose."
"Oh, gods!" Gabrielle moaned, burying her head in her hands.
"What?" Xena protested, "Youve smelled much worse before." Her feeble attempt at reassuring her friend proved to be a complete and utter failure. Her dismal effort at reassurance merely caused Gabrielle to begin to shake with suppressed sobs.
Gabrielle was on the verge of openly bursting into tears when Xena suddenly frowned in concentration, trying to unravel the mystery of Gabrielles disturbed state. "That last village we were in - you were at the market for an awfully long time. What did you see... No - who were you talking to?"
The bard froze in position, moving not a single muscle. "No one," Gabrielle hastily muttered, her denial unconvincing even to her own ears.
That explains it, Xena mused. "What was Salmoneus trying to sell you?" Xena probed as her brow furrowed in concentration. It had to be the chubby merchant...nobody else could so much as hold a candle to Gabrielle when she was bargaining.
"How did..." Gabrielle began, then stopped, staring aghast at the warrior when she realized shed as much as admitted that he was there.
"Never mind how I knew. What was he trying to sell this time?"
"Herbs," she slowly confessed.
"What kind of herbs?" Xena probed further, keeping her eyes locked on Gabrielles.
"Just some... feminine... herbs," Gabrielle slowly responded.
"I see," Xena muttered. Suppressing the urge to track down the merchant and kill him - slowly, she continued, "And did you buy some of these... herbs?"
"Well," Gabrielle sheepishly admitted. "He made so much sense when he was talking about what they were for... Did you know that the herbs were gathered in the virgin forest by a woman, for women - and are strong enough for a man, but made for a woman? Theyre supposed to keep you as fresh and pure as a spring in Eire, refreshing as they clean, and they're contoured to fit a woman's body. They had these cute little tabs shaped like a birds wings to help hold them in place no matter how you twi..." she trailed off.
Seeing Xenas dubious expression, she broke off her praises for Salmoneus latest invention and answered the question. "I really wanted to buy some, but... We were short on dinars, and they were so popular that he had to keep the price high to limit the demand... Even after he offered me a special discount rate, I didnt... think..." the bard stuttered to a halt before she could reveal everything.
"Special rate?" For a moment the warrior looked blank, then disgusted as understanding dawned. "Hermes! Advertising again? What did he want to do this time?" Xena demanded. Salmoneus odd ideas could sometimes be amusing, but this time hed clearly gone too far. With Gabrielle this disturbed, Xena vowed, heads would roll - figuratively or literally.
"He wanted the right to sell his herb packets as The choice of the Amazon Queen," Gabrielle wryly admitted. "But I thought that was in bad taste, no matter how much he offered to knock down the price, so I said no."
Xena smacked her forehead with the butt of one palm. "Of all the... Look Gabrielle, did Salmoneus seem to smell you? You know, sniff at you?" If he did, she really would track him down and kill him, she promised herself.
"No," she grudgingly admitted.
"Did he claim you needed to use one of these... packets?"
"Well, no," she acknowledged. "But he was right. Sometimes I dont feel quite so fresh..."
"So you wash!" Xena rolled her eyes. "Youre human, Gabrielle. All people smell - it happens. Its natural; nothing will change that - not even sticking a bunch of herbs up your..."
"Xena!" Gabrielles sharp protest stopped the warrior before she could finish her sentence.
"Look, Gabrielle - just tell me when youre feeling grungy and well clean up. Its no big deal... Salmoneus is just too clever for his own good. He never said you needed it; youre just letting self-doubt get in the way. Dont let some man who probably hasnt even seen what hes trying to deodorize in years make you feel bad about yourself, or make you start doubting your desirability."
She leaned in close and breathed deeply, purring from the back of her throat as she smelled the beginnings of arousal in Gabrielles scent. "Besides, I really like the way you smell."
Gabrielle giggled as Xena nosed her way across her stomach, her long black hair trailing across her thighs while the vibration of her words shivered sweetly through the skin of her stomach. As she breathed, Gabrielle could smell the fragrant and tantalizing blend of leather, hyacinth, cinnamon and musk that was uniquely "Xena."
Gasping as Xenas hand wrapped around her waist, insinuating itself into the waistband of her skirt, Gabrielle grudgingly admitted, "Well, I do kind of like the smell of warrior sweat..."
"So, is it so hard to believe that I like the smell of bard sweat...?"
"No...!" Gabrielle gasped as Xenas nose explored her body, her warm breath raising goosebumps as it blew over her tingling skin.
"Trust me - I do," Xena purred.
Somehow Gabrielle wasnt wearing quite as many clothes as shed been bare moments before. "Wha..." she began, only to be silenced by a quelling finger across her lips.
"Tell you what, Gabrielle," Xena breathed, amusement entering her voice. "Ill let you know if youre too ripe for me. Give me about half... no, a full candlemark to decide. Agreed?" The warrior sank lower and fell silent, mouth and tongue suddenly busy with other things as she sought to reassure her friend and lover.
"Yes! YES! Oh, Gods yes!" Gabrielle squealed in ecstasy, all thought of Salmoneus, herbs, and illusory irregular hygiene abruptly vanquished from her mind.
Authors Afterword : As I mentioned in the beginning, this is based on the ad where a mother and daughter are sitting on the beach and the daughter asks, "Have you ever had that not-so-fresh feeling?" before sharing a special moment trading tips on intimate hygiene. <Shudder> The mind boggles. Anyway, I envisioned Gabrielle sniffing a flower, sitting on the beach, turning to Xena, who is hot, sweaty, and covered with assorted bodily fluids from the chopped up corpses that surround her and asking that question. It evolved into this. Isnt it interesting what a bards mind will think about when the air conditioning isnt working and the heats rising?
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